Closures will be imposed on neighborhoods across the country starting Friday afternoon, government ministers decided Thursday night, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted for the first time that Israel had reopened its economy too quickly after the first wave of the virus. The closures will go into effect in neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Lod, Ramle and Kiryat Malachi starting today at 1 p.m. The closures will be in effect for a week.On Thursday night, Netanyahu admitted that Israel had opened its economy too quickly after the first wave of the virus.“Looking back, as part of trial and error, it can be said that this last step was premature,” the prime minister said. “Many urged us to do it, to open up the economy unhindered. This has not stopped these same people from asking us today, ‘Why did you open this way?’”He said that Israel opened up “because we listened to your hardships and wanted to put as many of you back into the workforce as possible.”The prime minister then encouraged the public to “wear masks. Studies show that when two people wear masks and stay two meters apart, the chance of getting infected is nil. So, I ask for your cooperation.”He said, “We are doing everything to avoid a complete closure – it is in our hands.”The mayors of most of the cities who expected to be closed on Thursday pushed back, trying to get their communities off the list.Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion wrote a heated letter to Deputy Director-General Itamar Grotto of the Health Ministry that was disseminated to the press on Thursday, in which he said that, “My unequivocal stance is against closure. The proposed closure will turn these neighborhoods into hatching grounds for coronavirus.”He said that unlike in other cities, the residents of Jerusalem live in crowded neighborhoods and the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community specifically has large families in small apartments.“Their hermetic closure will lead to mass infection within the community and make matters worse,” Leon argued.He proposed opening “coronavirus hotels” that would be operated by the municipality and the Home Front Command to remove the sick from their homes and prevent further infection. He also recommended, among other things, that yeshiva students who board at their schools should continue to stay there, operating in capsules, so as to not send potentially sick young men back to their families.“I believe that the issue must be systemic, including taking into account the best options for preventing the spread of infection,” the mayor concluded. “Closure without such solutions will achieve the opposite goal.”The Health Ministry defined the criteria for naming a restrictive zone: more than 50 infected residents, more than 151.8 infections per 100,000 residents, more than 98.9% increase in the number of active patients in seven days, Israeli media reported.According to data presented by the Health Ministry on Thursday morning 2,159 were sick in Jerusalem, 234 in Modi’in Illit, 216 in Ramle, 279 in Beit Shemesh, 228 in Lod, 149 in Kiryat Malachi and 828 in Ashdod. But numbers are up across the country and not just in these cities, Health Ministry data showed.Some 1,322 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, the Health Ministry said Thursday.In total, some 34,825 Israelis have been diagnosed with coronavirus, though there are only 16,025 people who remain infected. The rest have recovered.The percentage of people who tested positive out of those screened on Wednesday stood at around 4.5% – a number that has remained more or less consistent for the past few weeks. On Wednesday, some 29,271 people were tested.In total, just more than 8,550 Israelis have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the first nine days of July, compared to 8,395 all last month. Moreover, more than half of Israelis who have been infected with corona were infected in the last 40 days.Among the sick, 122 people are in serious condition, among them 39 who are intubated. So far, the virus has killed 348 Israelis.Between midnight and press time on Thursday, some 922 people tested positive.“I worry that in the coming weeks, we will see the consequences of the past two weeks,” Dr. Uri Galanta, the head of the coronavirus ward at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, said. “Take care so we can keep safe.”A report by N12 said that the Health Ministry on Thursday ordered all public hospitals to open an area to admit coronavirus patients into the emergency rooms to ensure they stay separated from non-coronavirus patients.Also, Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued a special order to recruit 2,000 additional IDF reservists until the end of July who can help work with the Health Ministry to stop the spread of the virus. Until now, around 750 reservists have been called up.Gantz is also considering a plan to open more coronavirus hotels next week.At the same time, Interior Minister Arye Deri announced that he has extended the ability for foreign nursing aides to enter Israel with a work permit due to the increase in elderly people in need of private care. The workers must enter isolation for 14 days.Meanwhile, the Institute for Biological Research announced it will collaborate with Italy’s Careggi University Hospital and Tuscany Life Sciences in the fight against coronavirus.According to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office, the memorandum of understanding was decided on during a phone conversation between Netanyahu and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.